The making of our own Healthy Living Cheese

Last week, we travelled to Vermont Farmstead Cheese for the start of a very exciting project! Together with Otter Creek Brewery, we created our very own alehouse cheddar using Otter Creek’s Backseat Berner.

We experienced the cheese making process from start to finish. Truly. Mollie, cheese buyer at our Saratoga store, arrived at the farm Sunday night just in time to help milk the cows. Vermont Farmstead Cheese sources all of the milk for their cheeses directly from their herd. What stood out to Mollie? The strong relationship the dairy farmers have with each and every cow, knowing all 70 by name! The whole process just goes to show that when the relationship between farmer and herd is kept positive, the quality of the product is just that much better.

The next morning, we began the cheese making process. The milk is warmed, and kept constantly moving as curds begin to form. After keeping the curds and whey moving for a few hours, the whey is drained from the giant cheesemaking vat.

The curds are moved to either side of the vat, draining the remaining whey. They’re rotated, flipped, and formed into long, spear-like shapes – all in an effort to remove as much liquid from the curds as possible. After flipping and rotating, we tossed the blocks of curd we so tirelessly worked to form right into a peg mill, breaking up the cheese once again. This machine is quite unique to Vermont Farmstead’s operation, and to Rick’s knowledge, he’s the only one in the US using one for cheese production. It is more commonly used for cheesemaking in the UK.

Then came the fun part. The curds were doused in cold, delicious beer. We ceremoniously toasted our hard work, while performing a quick quality check of the Backseat Berner. It passed with flying colors, and we reluctantly emptied the better part of two kegs atop the 1300lbs of cheese curd.

The final step was shoveling the cheese curds into forms, each weighing 40lbs. The curds were pressed one last time to remove any excess whey and beer. Now, we wait impatiently as our cheese ages! We’re hoping to have it for sale in early July, 2017. In the meantime, we’ll be working on a killer name.

We want to thank Vermont Farmstead Cheese for hosting this adventure in cheesemaking, and Otter Creek Brewery for coming along for the ride, and putting the ale in alehouse cheddar!